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Writing Melodies for Congregational Worship

May 23, 2019 Speaker: Matt Merker Series: 2018 D&T Conference Audio

Topic: Liturgy

Matt Merker coaches songwriters on how to write fresh, singable melodies for worship in the church.


"Reasons we write new songs for the church:
  1. God is worthy of new efforts we can make to praise him.
  2. Creativity honors God and reflects his image.
  3. To serve new lyrics.
  4. Songs are portable theology lessons. 
  5. Every congregation is different."
"The reason that music is so powerful for Christians is that it’s a marriage of theology and melody. Music helps to make the truths stick to our hearts, making a conduit between our head and our heart. We want to write not just melodies that work but melodies that stir our hearts first and then the hearts of our people by enabling them to engage with rich truths about who God is and what he’s done."
"We’re writing to the church, we want to write a song that will minister to and bless and encourage our people, and we’re also writing for the church, we’re literally putting something in their mouths."
"What makes a melody singable?
  1. Intuitive—the melody is neither so predictable that it’s boring nor so complex that it’s baffling. It can be learned after being heard just a few times. Singable doesn’t mean it’s easy to learn; it means you want to keep singing it.
  2. Natural—suits all the voices in the congregation in terms of its range and the phrasing allows you to breathe.
  3. Complementary to the lyrics—the tone and mood of the melody matches the mood and the meaning of the text, and the tune should fit the phrasing and the meter and accent of the poetry.
  4. Affective—it moves the emotions. It should move the heart, not just obey the rules of music theory."
"Can the melody be interesting enough to carry the interest without relying on all these cool chords I learned in my music theory class?"

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